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up with a start and listened. Jeannie's bed was on the other side of the room, and she could generally hear her movements plainly enough, for the sick child was a restless sleeper. But now she could hear nothing, not even the faint vibration of her sister's breath. The silence was absolute and appalling; it struck tangibly upon her sense, as the darkness struck upon her eye-balls, and filled her with a numb, unreasoning terror. She slipped out of bed and struck a match. In another few seconds she was standing by Jeannie's white little bed, waiting for the wick of the candle to burn up. Presently the light grew. Jeannie was lying on her side, her white face resting on her white arm. Her eyes were wide open; but when Augusta held the candle near her she did not shut them or flinch. Her hand, too-oh, Heavens! the fingers were nearly cold.
Then Augusta understood, and lifting up her arms in agony, she shrieked till the whole house rang.
On the second day following the death of poor little Jeannie Smithers, Mr. Eustace Meeson was strolling about Birmingham with his hands in his pockets, and an air of indecision on his decidedly agreeable and gentlemanlike countenance. Eustace Meeson was not particularly cast down by the extraordinary reverse of fortune which he had recently experienced. He was a young gentleman of a cheerful nature; and, besides, it did not so very much matter to him. He was in a blessed condition of celibacy, and had no wife and children dependent upon him, and he knew that it would go hard if, with the help of the one hundred a year that he had of his own, he did not manage, with his education, to get a living by hook or by crook. So it was not the loss of the society of his respected uncle, or of the prospective enjoyment of two millions of money, which was troubling him. Indeed, after he had once cleared his goods and chattels out of Pompadour Hall and settled them in a room in an hotel, he had not given the matter much thought. But he had given a good many thoughts to Augusta Smithers' grey eyes,
and, by way of getting an insight into her character, he had at once invested in a copy of "Jemima's Vow," thereby, somewhat against his will, swelling the gains of Meeson's to the extent of several shillings. Now "Jemima's Vow," though simple and homely, was a most striking and powerful book, which fully deserved the reputation that it had gained, and it affected Eustace
who was in so much different from most young men of his age that he really did know the difference between good work and bad-more strongly than he Iwould have liked to own. Indeed, at the termination of the story, what between the beauty of Augusta's pages, the memory of Augusta's eyes, and the knowledge of Augusta's wrongs, Mr. Eustace Meeson began to feel very much as though he had fallen in love. Accordingly, he went out walking, and, meeting a clerk whom he had known in the Meeson establishmentone of those who had been discharged on the same day as himself-he obtained from him Miss Smithers' address, and began to reflect as to whether or no he should call upon her. Unable to make up his mind, he continued his walk till he reached the quiet street where Augusta lived, and, suddenly perceiving the house of which the clerk had told him, yielded to temptation and rang.
The door was answered by the maid-of-all-work, who looked at him a little curiously, but said that Miss Smithers was in, and then conducted him to a door which was half open, and left him there in the kindly
and agreeable fashion that maids-of-all-work have. Eustace was perplexed, and, looking through the door to see if any one was in the room, discovered Augusta herself, dressed in some dark material, seated in a chair, her hands folded on her lap, her pale face set like a stone, and her eyes gazing into vacancy. He paused, wondering what could be the matter, and as he did so his umbrella slipped from his hand, making a noise that rendered it necessary for him to declare himself.
Augusta rose as he advanced, and looked at him with a puzzled air, as though she were striving to recall his name or where she had met him.
"I beg your pardon," he stammered, "I must introduce myself, as the girl has deserted me—I am Eustace Meeson."
Augusta's face hardened at the name. "If you have come to me from Messrs. Meeson & Co."- she said quickly, and then broke off, as though struck by some new idea.
"Indeed, no," said Eustace. "I have nothing in common with Messrs. Meeson now, except my name; and I have only come to tell you how sorry I was to see you treated as you were by my uncle. You remember, I was in the office?"
"Yes," she said, with a suspicion of a blush, "I remember you were very kind."
"Well, you see," he went on, "I had a great row with my uncle after that, and it ended in his turning
me out of the place, bag and baggage, and informing me that he was going to cut me off with a shilling, which," he added reflectively, "he has probably done by now."
"Do I understand you, Mr. Meeson, to mean that you quarrelled with your uncle about me and my books?"
"Yes; that is so," he said.
"It was very chivalrous of you," she answered, looking at him with a new-born curiosity. Augusta was not accustomed to find knights-errant thus prepared, at such cost to themselves, to break lance in her cause. Least of all was she prepared to find that knight bearing the hateful crest of Meeson-if, indeed, Meeson had a crest.
"I ought to apologise," she went on presently, after an awkward pause, "for making such a scene in the office, but I wanted money so dreadfully, and it was so hard to be refused. But it does not matter now. It is all done with."
There was a dull, hopeless ring about her voice that awoke his curiosity. For what could she have wanted the money, and why did she no longer want it?
"I am sorry," he said. "Will you tell me what you wanted it so much for?"
She looked at him, and then, acting upon impulse rather than reflection, said in a low voice
"If you like I will show you."